Catholics Mourn Ofei

( [email protected] ) Jul 05, 2003 10:00 AM EDT

The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) has formally announced the death of one of its brightest priests in the last two decades.

In a statement issued in Lagos on Monday, and signed by Communications Director, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, Rev. Fr. Uba John Ofei died in Lagos last Saturday.

Reverend Father Uba John Ofei, Secretary in the Department of Missions and Dialogue of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria. Lagos, the statement said, passed away on Saturday, June 28, 2003, at the Lagoon Hospital, Lagos, two months and two days after he celebrated his 25th priestly ordination anniversary on April 6, 2003, in Igarra, his home-town in Auchi Diocese of Edo State.

Ofei had in the year 2001 undergone a surgery for a brain hemorrhage. He was born on July 6, 1952 into a polygamous family at Igarra, Edo State.

During his lifetime, the amiable priest was a lovable personality and preacher, whose powerful homily affected the lives of many people. He was a gifted man, a social crusader, human rights activist, writer, poet, and commentator on public issues as well as a lover of human advancement issues. During the military regime, he teamed up with other notable human rights activists to protest man's inhumanity to man which characterised that regime. That action led to his receiving several threats to his life and hate phone calls.

Among the books authored by him are: Beyond Fear and Fury and After the Fire, while Waiting and other Hearings is still in print. He also contributed several articles to many religious and secular newspapers on issues of national relevance.

He was often called Woman Fada because of his love for the socio-political and economic empowerment of women and his involvement in positive transformation of the suffering masses during the five years he was the co-ordinator of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria's Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC').

After his primary and secondary education in Igarra, young John was admitted to the famous Ss. Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Ibadan, in 1971 for his priestly training . He was ordained in 1970 a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Benin City and thus became the first indigene of Igarra to become a Catholic Church priest. He went for further studies at the University of Boston, USA. He had served in various parishes in Benin, Lagos and Abuja Archdioceses which was his last working place before his death.

Ofei had worked as Secretary for Justice Deve -lopment and Peace Department at the CSN, Lagos between 1996 and 2001, before he was transferred to the Abuja Office to serve as the Secretary for Mission and Dialogue in January 2001 under the Secretariat's restructuring exercise.